20 Years of Animal Communication

On my “About” page you will see that I have been a professional animal communicator for 16 years. But it all started a while before that… Sometime around 1995 I purchased a book about animal communication. I was subletting an apartment in Colorado and looking after the cat that lived there. As I read the book I tried the exercises on Sita, a sweet chubby calico girl. One exercise suggested imagining sending the image of a ball to the cat. I really couldn’t tell if I was getting through to her or not. Humble beginnings for sure. Soon after I got the book I woke up with a freshly killed bird on my collarbone and a very proud Sita staring down at me. I screamed and jumped out of bed. Poor Sita, she thought we had a real connection- I was sending imaginary balls and she was offering me a prized hunt, and then I spoiled the whole thing by screaming. We reconnected later and I like to consider her my first official teacher of telepathy.

colorado    sita

Sita in her yard and me on a mountain, both in Colorado 1995.

I have been reflecting so much on the beginning, and everything that has come since then, because this year marks half-way. I am forty and I bought that book when I was twenty, half my life spent in the pursuit of this profession.

I am proud of what I have accomplished. It started with reading books. Then I took workshops from several teachers, and then I practiced a lot. I graduated from college after writing my thesis on Holistic Methods (including telepathy) of Working with Animals- Titled Deepening the Connection. (I had to take the thesis out to remember the title! Now I am so curious to read it again. Some of my ideas have shifted I imagine. If you have access to the library at Goddard College you can read it yourself!) I started with a few clients during college in the years between 1996 and 1998 before I officially started Dawn’s Animal Connection.

Over all these years thousands of people have trusted me with their most precious relationships, best friends, tears, and life stories. And I have never, not once, been bored by an animal. I am still delighted by what they “say”, their sweet faces, their new ideas. Honestly I can talk about animals almost endlessly. Those of you who have attended my workshops know I have a policy: Pause for Cuteness. If at any point an animal becomes more interesting than the class, we all stop and enjoy the moment. I live my life at home that way too. Nothing is more important than a bunny cleaning his ears or a kid cuddled up with a cat.

kidcuddle  facecleaning

Bunny ear cleaning must be seen in person to appreciate the full cuteness.

20 years…
6,000 (human) clients
24,000 consultations
48 states and at least 6 countries (clients in…)
3 children’s books about animals
40 or more articles about animal communication published here (and elsewhere)
70 workshops taught

*these statistics are good estimates, not exact numbers

All of this happened almost exclusively from word of mouth and a few clients who came to me from my website. Pretty amazing right? I have always been one to write out my goals, and I can tell you that these statistics by far exceed the goals I set when I named my business in 1998. Thank you to all of my clients and an extra special thank you to the many clients who have stayed with me for all of these years. Just today I had a session with my first ever client (from 1996!)

May you all enjoy animals as much as I do, and don’t forget to Pause for Cuteness. (And don’t forget to book a session right?)

PS. Announcing a workshop date for this year, May 2-3 2015


Cats Do What They Want

You know that fun icebreaker question when you ask someone which superhero power they would most like to have? I never really settled on an answer until I thought a bit outside the box, then it came to me. The perfect superhero power would be the ability to make cats do what I want! A girl can dream a little right? How about if I could just control where they pee? That would make a lot of my clients happy!

Free will is what makes this whole world fun and scary at the same time. Scary when you start believing that your happiness and survival depend on other people and animals doing what you want, and super fun when you can enjoy the ride and see what delightful surprises in are store. I do a little of both.

I sometimes wonder if cats are in our lives to help us remember that we are not in control of others. They teach us so much right?

My cat, Owen, doles out little lessons each day. One of his favorite teachings is called, “My Chair, Not Yours”. I have a stand-up desk at work, so when I bring up client files and make notes I stand up. Then while consulting I sit down. Basically I stand then sit at least 15 times each morning. Almost every time I stand, Owen slips in and curls up on my chair. He has his own couch, but of course my chair is more desirable (and warm). One morning I moved him 8 times. “How annoying”, he said! Sometimes I just give up and work standing up.

When Owen decides he wants to sit somewhere, very little can deter him. Even a too small box will not stand in his way.

A wonderful client wrote to me, “… that you have a similar Tuxedo boy is heartening… if a pet communicator and lover of animals is subject to the whims of her kitty then it is not isolated to me.” I love this note! So true, we are on the same ride because communication and control are not synonymous. I understand what animals are thinking and feeling. Often in the process of understanding, solutions to various issues can be found, however that does not mean that my cat does whatever I want.

I find that loving and appreciating my animals is one of the most enriching aspects of life. I am so thrilled that I can’t control them, because if I could, I wouldn’t be surprised by donkey brays, and bunny snuggles, and cat purrs.

Owen carefully laid next to the dominoes, staring at us and tempting fate, then slowly lowered himself on top of the tower as dominoes crashed around him.

Mallory Models


My new children’s book, Animal Fairy Magic, co-written by my daughter Hannah, was just released last week. We had a book launching party on Saturday which was amazingly fun. All of my animals are in the book, and Mallory is the co-star (along with Hannah).


For the party I braided ribbons into Mallory’s mane. (Ichabod watched me intently and insisted on having his own ribbon. I gave him a blue bow in his forelock.)  Then, each kid at the party had a chance to model on Mallory- recreating the book cover. Mallory was very patient and looked beautiful. She had fun offering her “smile” trick for the camera!


Of course Mallory loves performing so she also played her toy piano for the crowd. (I really must get a proper video of that for you.) She has enhanced her “style” and it is so cute! Ichabod is also learning the piano and he played a few notes too.

The fairy models had such a fun time playing together and signing books.



I read one of the chapters to the crowd, “Owen Gets Painted”.


If you want to see a preview of the book it is on Amazon, and it is on sale too.


Donkeys Remember Everything

The issue of whether or not donkeys are stubborn has been explored in books and online. Basically they have reasons for the things they do and don’t do, so technically they aren’t stubborn. BUT… when you are living with a donkey it is hard to resist the urge to think, “This animal is stubborn!” I have experienced that often it is the impeccable memory of the donkey that leads to them to act “stubborn”.

I am working on overcoming my exasperation with my donkeys by really carefully listening to them when we work together. Asking the donkeys, “What are you noticing? What is different? What are you expecting?” For example, Ichabod will not be lead on my left side. He insists, “That is not how I do it.” In other words when he was trained to lead he remembered the details, such as the side his trainer was on and he wants to stick with the rules!

A few days ago I had a great clicker training session with Ichabod. Toward the end I wanted to work on a new trick. I dropped the lead rope on the ground to free my hands. He dropped his nose to the rope, then looked at me. This was not what I was asking him to do. But then… he reminded me that I had taught him to touch ropes on the ground with his nose. (It is a good “safety” trick in case a rider drops the reins.) Of course I rewarded his good memory then asked him to continue our other lesson. He kept putting his head down to the rope, ignoring my “new” topic. I realized at that point he wasn’t being stubborn, he was just sticking with his topic instead of mine. In such an instance my horse would have easily moved on, but my donkey was not going to move on. Easily fixed by moving the rope!

Part of the issue with me and the donkeys is that I am not the best clicker trainer. I try and I am OK, but donkeys are very specific, have impeccable memories, and get very attached to things being a certain way. I must constantly look at my own behavior and ask myself, “Are you being consistent?” They also come with memories from before I met them, so I need to be listening and understanding their beliefs about how training “should” be.

Another thing that has really helped me relax about donkeys, is to stop being attached to them doing what I want. (Of course safe behaviors are still essential.) I find when I love them, enjoy their company, and stay unattached, we all have a nicer time.

Rabbits Chewing and a New Book

Pet rabbits will chew your stuff. Really they will. People ask me, “How do you keep him from chewing your wires?” Well here is my answer: I move my wires.

Rabbits need to chew daily to keep their teeth from growing too long. That may be why your rabbit chews things like your baseboards. Maybe. But it is not usually why your rabbit chews wires.

Rabbits plan their escape routes in advance. When you see a wild bunny zigzagging through a meadow into the briars, that is not random. In an absolute emergency they may go off course, but normally the escape has been practiced and planned. They run the course daily clipping any vines or briars out of the way so they have a clear, rabbit sized path, to move through swiftly when being chased.

bunnynews   bunnews2

(See he just had to move that Lego house!)

Your sweet indoor bun is simply clearing his escape routes when he clips your wires. Usually rabbits like to plan sneaky escapes, so squeezing behind the couch is a favorite path of many pet rabbits. People often have wires behind their furniture to “hide” the wires. You can see the rabbit’s only option is to clip those intrusive “vines”.

My rabbit Bramley used to keep the couch “clean”, as it was one of his escape routes. He would take my daughters books and toys and toss them like a Frisbee (from his mouth) onto the floor. Once the entire couch was clear he would flop down and relax.


(Legos everywhere!)

Moral of the story: Your rabbit will plan an escape route (or 2 or 3). You can learn what his plan is by watching how he hops through the house. Then you won’t put anything you don’t want chewed in his path. (Sometimes rabbits even decide your couch is in the way.)

I know it would be nice if I could just “tell” the rabbit not to chew. And sometimes that works or at least helps, but going against their nature is very difficult. Moving your stuff is generally easier.

Speaking of Bramley: I wrote a sequel to my children’s book (Bramley’s Little Sister). The new book, Bramley’s Big Family is available on Amazon and the 2nd edition of Bramley’s Little Sister is also on Amazon.

Perfect for an Easter Basket!

Here is a little sneak peak:


forweb17  forweb25  forweb26


The above article has been written based on feedback from rabbits. I don’t know what “science” says about this escape route concept.  



Animals and Pain

One of the most common questions my clients have for their animal is, “Are you in pain?” Pain has so much power in our culture and can mean many different things to different people. Years ago my fingers were sore for months from Lyme Disease. It was inconvenient but not devastating. But what if I had been a concert pianist? I image the finger pain would mean something very different to me in that scenario.

So how do animals think of pain?


A few months ago I watched out my office window, day after day, as my horse lay on the ground, her foot throbbing in pain from an abscess. I was doing what I could to relieve her discomfort medically, but hoof abscesses take time to heal. I think I “suffered” more that she did as I fretted over if she would get better and how would she get better. She, on the other hand, took the situation as a moment to moment issue. When it was sunny she would lay in the sand, enjoying the sun, resting her foot. When I threw hay down from the loft she would stand up and focus on her one true love – food! She never wondered if or when she would get better. She just knew to lie down when her foot hurt. She definitely felt pain, but how she perceived the pain was different from how I might under similar circumstances.


Asking rabbits about pain is one of the most difficult tasks as an animal communicator. They prefer not to talk about pain. Even amongst other rabbits. Showing any vulnerability puts these animals at the top of a prey list and they want to avoid that. When my rabbit Bramley was young he fractured his hip. It was obvious that something was very wrong because he was dragging his hind legs. He hardly complained, still ate, still used his litter box, and barely altered his routine. As he grew older he occasionally communicated to me that he had back pain (from the resulting arthritis). I was so fortunate that he was willing to share his vulnerability with me so that I could help him. I believe his willingness to communicate about pain came directly from his experience with homeopathic remedies helping him.


Most animals do not “naturally” believe that humans can change pain. But many domestic animals do eventually learn that humans have some ability to help (although they usually see that as very limited). Often dogs will understand that you can take a thorn from their paw, but they have no expectation of you fixing their chronic hip pain. Sometimes when I suggest to an animal that people might help with pain they think it is very odd, as if I suggested that I could make it rain less often!

So what does pain mean to animals? That has many answers, and some are unique to the individual animal, but I can comment on some generalities regarding species. For example, often to small prey animals pain means vulnerability. To most animals it is in the moment. It is very unusual for an animal to speculate regarding the future consequences of their pain. Sometimes pain is very upsetting to animals. For example a cat with impacted anal glands may run from the litter box in fright as they believe “something” is biting them. Sometimes pain is ignored; like the dog who is born with hip dysplasia and doesn’t know life without some pain.


What I have learned from animals is to take my own pain moment to moment. To avoid making it mean something about my future. And to acknowledge the pain without making the pain a bigger part of my life than necessary. (Of course, that’s me on a good day. I am not yet as easy going as my horse!)

Donkey Games

Donkeys love to play. When Ichabod (the Mammoth Donkey) was growing up, he had other youngsters to play with. He arrived here and expected Burrito to play with him, but Burrito was not interested… at least not at first.  donkeytire

Ichabod continued to invite Burrito to play and eventually he gave in. Burrito still never initiates the play, but if Ichabod walks up to him with a toy, and nugs at him a bit, he will usually start to play.


Their favorite game is tug-of-war. The favorite toy is a rubber food bowl, but they also enjoy large sticks and an old bicycle tire.


Aside from tug-of-war, they also enjoy racing. Burrito corners really well, but Ichabod has the long legs, so they can really run quite vigorous races. Sometime they use Mallory (my horse) as a turning post and end up running circles around her. She completely ignores that and all other donkey games.


They also enjoy wrestling! Burrito has found some great strategies for completing against his giant friend. Sometimes he stands on the high side of the sloped paddock to gain a height advantage.

Donkey games are a highlight in my day. I can see them playing from my office window and my dining room window. My whole family enjoys tug-of-war contests while we eat dinner!

My Wild Backyard

We have a wild backyard! I wish I had a photo of everyone who has stopped by, but some pass through so quickly we never get a chance to snap the photo. Some of the more interesting visitors I have seen but not yet photographed are; coyotes, moose, bobcats, and blue heron. We also have the usual chipmunks, snakes, mice, and many varieties of birds including blue birds and goldfinch.

So here it is, my wild backyard… (This is the real deal people, many of the photos were taken from inside the house through the windows; because just because I can communicate with animals does not make standing next to wild bears a good idea!)










How Henry Came to Be “Ours”

Our animal friend’s come to us in so many different ways don’t they? For me, I have inherited a cat, been given a horse, selected animals from shelters, purchased a riding donkey, had a cat walk in as a stray and so on…

A few months ago we were ready to get a new cat and we wanted to be sure the new one got along well with Owen (rambunctious male kitten) and we needed the new guy to be comfortable in an active household with young kids. Also he needed to be rabbit friendly. And we wanted the new cat to be the right match for our daughter Sierra. It was a tall order to fill!

We went to the shelter after being tipped off about a half grown kitten that might be a good match. We went into the room with the kitten and two other cats. That kitten might have been one of the cutest cats I have ever seen (aesthetically speaking). And he was friendly and playful. Most likely a reasonable match for our family. There was also a fat, slight disheveled cat there who immediately walked up to me and pressed his forehead into my leg. Then pressed his face into Sierra’s hands. While the kitten we came to see danced around and largely ignored the children, this other guy stayed committed to his cause of getting to know us. I asked Sierra to look into her heart and ask which cat was truly best for her, not considering the physical appearance (she was hooked on the cuteness of the kitten). She was quickly able to see that Henry was meant to be with us!

henry1      henry3)

Henry came home that day and immediately became one of my most beloved friends. He is the perfect match for Sierra, he loves sitting on laps, he plays wonderfully with Owen, and he is stunning to look at. As for getting along with the rabbit… well that didn’t go so well at first. When Henry went snooping in Ton Ton’s food dish, the rabbit chased him down, knocked him over, and jumped on him. Needless to say that was terrifying for Henry. They have since worked out a reasonable relationship, but Henry is sure to stay away from the rabbit’s food!


Isn’t it fantastic when the perfect beings enter our lives just when we need them most? (Like this little Cinderella and her Prince Charming.)


Mallory’s Teeth

Mallory has been with me almost 2 years now, and for most of that time she has been telling me that chewing is uncomfortable. I had her teeth filed by a horse dentist about a month after she came. Then a second filing a few months later. And yet another filing by a vet about 8 months after that. Still she let me know chewing was not comfortable. Better, for sure, but not right. (I am not implying that these professionals didn’t do a good job; the issue in her mouth was complicated and was not easily resolved.)


In the summer of 2012 she started limping with her hind legs. The vet said it was locking stifles (knees). He told us to walk up and down hills everyday. That helped but she was still sore.

Then, I talked with a horse chiropractor, Bud Allen, and I asked him which I should do first; another dental or an adjustment for the hind end. He said dental first. So I hired a third dentist to come check her out. He does things a bit differently than the other dental filings she had had. He uses a Dremel tool. He felt he could help her but the proposed job had risks. He was going to file down some teeth quite a bit and whether it helped or not, the job was irreversible. Mallory and I felt it was worth a chance; she really wanted to feel better.

So we did it! And the week following the dental was not great. She had trouble chewing. She had a bit of liquid in her manure due to the lack of chewing her food well. I was worried but she said she had much less pain. She and I decided it was a matter of her getting used to chewing in a new way. Sure enough, after one week she stopped dropping her food and her manure firmed up.

You haven’t heard the best part yet; her locking stifles resolved within three days of doing the dental! I never even needed to have the chiropractic adjustment. Bud Allen had told me that the jaw and hind quarters interact with one another but this result blew me away.

Needless to say, Mallory and I are very happy with the results. But I do want you to know that this is a personal, individual story, and is not meant to be advice about dentals or locking stifles. And Mallory and I promised each other before the “extreme” dental that we would not look back with regret if it didn’t work. Of course it did work, but I am sure we would have kept our promise if it hadn’t.